Turkish – Iranian – Russian Astana agreement allows regime forces to recover about 53000 km² of the Syrian land area
From one Astana to another, and from an agreement to a political transition, the killing escalates, and with it the international and regional movements escalate to impose resolutions practically agreed upon on the ground. Meetings and encounters are held one after another, while from behind the scenes the features of the upcoming decisions are being drawn with a bloody military drawing tools, composed of bullets, cannon shells, missiles, bombs and warplanes raids, and between every Astana meeting and the other one there are blood and bode parts, victims and criminals, murder and slaughter, and there is no peace caller in the midst of all the falling bodies on the Syrian soil.
From the 4th meeting of Astana on May 2017, which was followed by the “de-escalation of hostility operations and tension” agreement on the 6th of the same month, and until the 6th Astana meeting currently held in mid-September 2017; the field has changed dramatically, and the Syrian land has witnessed the most violent clashes and the fastest changes and transformations. Ruling the lands have changed from an army to another, and the Syrian civilians remained the only losers of all they own from land, property, family and relatives, missing the safety and peace and often in specific areas they are missing anything that may stop their hunger.
The de-escalation agreement which was applied on the 6th of May 2017 was launched on a fragile platform of Bashar al-Assad’s regime and its allied powers, mainly Russia, where the regime forces used to control an area about 36000 km² which is 19.3% of Syrian land area, and it was the third most powerful force in Syria, after the “Islamic State” organization, which was the most powerful force with more than 72300 km² which is 39.1% of the Syrian land area, while the Syria Democratic Forces was ranked second and controlled about 22.1% of the Syrian land area which is about 41000 km², while the rebel and Islamic factions, Hayyaat Tahrir Al-Sham, the Islamic Turkestani party and factions that include “jihadists” fighters, which used to control large parts of the Syrian territory have retreated in many areas, where they control 19.2% of Syrian territory with a geographical area reached over 35500 km² of the area of Syria, and within the overall area of control of the factions; the “Euphrates Wrath” Operation Forces and Turkish forces in the northeastern countryside of Aleppo control over 2250 km² which is 1.2% of the Syrian area, while the US-and-western-backed factions in the Syrian desert control the areas starting from line of the al-Tanf – Kherbet al-Shahmi crossing until the north of Khebret al-Zaqf camp, in which there is a camp of these factions; and the size of their controlled are is about 3540 km² which is 1.9% of the Syrian area.
And with the retreat of the “Islamic State” organization the factions have become the 3rd force in Syria, after the regime forces and the Syria Democratic Forces, also Jaysh Khalid Ibn al-Walid which swore allegiance to the “Islamic State” organization controls an area of about 250 km² which is 0.1% of the Syrian land area, and located in the Yarmouk basin in the western countryside of Daraa, adjacent to the occupied Syrian Golan.
Russia has worked heavily to bring a change in the areas of control via successive truces in different Syrian areas, which given the regime forces force the ability to start a wide and long battle against two main parties, the first one is the “Islamic State” organization, and the second one is the Syrian Desert factions, accompanied by sporadic clash in the Eastern Ghouta and the northern countryside of Homs.
Russia was able to achieve the truces after negotiations with representatives of the opposition and factions operating in the areas of the agreements, like the Syrian South agreement, which includes Quneitra, Daraa and al-Suwaidaa, and it was done with an American – Russian – Jordanian consensus, and also the comprehensive de-escalation agreement which includes Idlib, northern countryside of Hama, northern countryside of Homs, Damascus, Rif Dimashq and the southern Syrian provinces, and also the agreement of the Eastern Ghouta between the Russians and Jaysh al-Islam and later Rahman Corps, but the latter was not successful and did not continue, there is also the agreement of the northern countryside of Homs which collapsed quickly after it was applied by an Egyptian-Russian consensus, and these agreements provided a ground for the regime forces to enter a military operation which is still taking place until today, which enabled the regime forces to achieve a large and wide advancement on the Syrian territory and get back tens of villages, towns and cities of the hand of the “Islamic State” organization, where the control percentage has changed between the regime forces and the” Islamic State “organization, and with it the control percentage of the factions has changed too; the regime forces have become the most powerful force in Syria after recovering about 53000 km² since the 6th of May 2017 which is the date of the start of the 4th Astana meeting. The regime forces today the 15th of September 2017 are controlling about 89000 km² which is 48% of the area of Syria, while the Syria Democratic Forces remained in second rank and they control about 43000 km² which is 23.1% of the Syrian land area, while the percentage of the factions fell to 16.5% of the Syrian area which is about 30600 km² of the Syrian territory, and within the overall area of control of the factions; the “Euphrates Wrath” Operation Forces and Turkish forces in the northeastern countryside of Aleppo control over 2250 km² which is 1.2% of the Syrian area, while the US-and-western-backed factions in the Syrian desert control about 3540 km² which is 1.9% of the Syrian area, also the “Islamic State” organization has lost more than two thirds of the area it used to control at the beginning of May 2017 and it now controls about 12.3% which is about 22800 km² of the Syrian area, while Jaysh Khalid Ibn al-Walid which swore allegiance to the “Islamic State” organization is still controlling an area of about 250 km² which is 0.1% of the Syrian land area, and located in the Yarmouk basin in the western countryside of Daraa, adjacent to the occupied Syrian Golan.
The regime forces managed to recover an area about 1.5 the times of the area they used to control before the 4th Astana meeting, which was accompanied by imposing an agreement for “easing tension and military escalation”, where they were able to end the presence of the “Islamic State” organization in Aleppo Province completely, and took control of several towns most notably Deir Hafer, Maskanah and Al-Khafseh, and they regained control of the cities of Palmyra and al-Sukhnah in the eastern countryside of Homs as well as extensive areas of the Syrian Desert, in addition to ending the existence of the “Islamic State” organization in Rif Dimashq province, and restoring large parts swathes of Rif Dimashq and the northeastern countryside of al-Suwaidaa, and they reduced the size of the “Islamic State” organization’s controlled areas in Homs and Hama, the regime forces were also able to break the siege of Deir Ezzor city and took control of large areas of its western desert and the surroundings of the city, and wide areas in the eastern, southern and southwestern countryside of Al-Raqqah.
High resolution link of the change of control map from May to September 2017